Chandler, Arizona, United States

There's an old saying. If you don't want someone to join a crowd, you ask them, "If everyone were jumping off of a cliff, would you?" Well, I have. So my answer would be "Yes". True story.
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A Few Thoughts on David Sedaris

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

this entry brought to you by franz ferdinand, "lucid dreams"

Do you know who David Sedaris is? I would describe him a humorist. He writes essays in magazines, notably Esquire and GQ, and they are always auto biographical and humorous. I like him a lot; I own both Me Talk Pretty One Day and When You Are Engulfed In Flames. He contributes regularly to This American Life. He is a joy.

I almost never laugh out loud when I read David Sedaris. This isn't to say that he's not funny, but what he's going for isn't necessarily laugh-out-loud moments, he's going for humorous stories from his life that hopefully relate a theme or help us feel connected together by his odd, sometimes somewhat dark musings. But he's not a stand-up comedian, nor even someone like Dave Berry who is outright telling jokes. There are no jokes in David Sedaris's essays. They are more just generally humorous, with Sedaris making wry observations where he might, at most, have a twist of words.

In terms of what he is setting up to accomplish, I would say he is one of the finest examples of that thing-- I would even go so far that he is so good at his approach to humor that he is almost entirely unique among writers of his generation. Other writers simply do not write the way he does.

I don't actually read books anymore; I find it far more convenient to listen to audiobooks. And when David Sedaris does audiobooks, he'll often take audio recordings from his readings in front of a live audience and simply use them for chapters of the audiobook, rather than recording them in a studio. And I hate the audiences that go to David Sedaris book readings.

They laugh uproariously throughout, like he Sedaris were a stand-up comic. They laugh like he's fucking Patton Oswalt. They laugh at things that I wouldn't even suppose that Sedaris meant as a laugh loud, and they laugh like it's the funniest fucking thing ever.

I'll give you an example. There's a chapter in the audiobook for Me Talk Pretty One Day that goes like the following:

Voice: Ladies and gentlemen... David Sedaris.

[enthusiastic applause]

Sedaris: This chapter's called "The Youth in Asia."

Uproarious Laughter. The kind of laughter as if the people in the audience had never even considered that "Euthanasia" sounds like "Youth In Asia". It's the kind of non-joke that isn't even representative of Sedaris' humor-- it is a throw-away pun that Sedaris used to summarize a point made in the story, used probably because Sedaris thought it was cute, but the audience laughed like he was George Carlin pointing out how ridiculous it was that you couldn't say certain words on television.

Let me reiterate. I love Sedaris. I really, really do. He's the kind of voice who is so dry and so bemused by his surroundings that I would absolutely love to be his friend, to pick his brain on a huge assortment of topics, because while I'm sure he doesn't have an opinion on everything, I'm sure anything that he has a take on, I'm positive it will be said in a way that nobody else would say it.

But Jesus Christ those audiences in the recordings make me not want to see him live.

with love from CRS @ 4:17 PM 


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